Moroni saw me daily
Merry Black History Month! My last contribution this season comes from my personal history. We each have a story to tell and I hope this starts a long list of personal stories we can share. The following excerpt is from Moroni Saw Me chapter three.
I LEARNED WHY TO HATE THE WORD Ni**ER.
I will forego using the true names of my bullies as a protection for them because Nashville is such a tiny town. Two White boys rode the same bus as my brother Reggie and I to school every morning. Of course, other kids who happened to be racially White rode the bus, but these boys were White first and kids last. The other kids on the bus just happened to be White.
These two White boys were big kids and were two of a few older kids that rode the same bus with a crash of elementary kids every morning. Reggie and I were the only Black kids on the bus—it seemed that way from my experience. Every morning, these kids would sit next to us on the bus and spew vitriolic slurs abusing us. Having lived in the urban culture where people used the word in diverse ways, I did not truly know what a ni**er was—its true definition. When those two White boys used the word, I did not appreciate how it rolled off their tongues—as if Reggie and I were beneath them, sub-human. (Ironically, I nurtured a friendship with the ringleader’s younger brother. We lived houses away from each other making us neighbors!)
All the kids on the bus feared them. We endured daily the racial slurs until the ringleader—I say ringleader because it was a freak-show circus act in my estimation with us as the freaks—told us that he would take my brother and me, “grease ‘em up real good,” lay us end to end and slide down the bus seats using our bodies! That makes no sense to me now, but then I was terrified! I was so terrified it etched in my psyche a permanent scar! I did the only thing I could think of. I told my cousin Aaron!
Aaron is my first cousin Johnny Lee’s (of whom I will speak later) youngest child who is a little above a year older than I am, but much, much larger. To illustrate, Aaron told me a story about his high school teacher telling him to stop acting his shoe size and start acting his age. He was 15 years old at the time. Guess what his shoe size was!
Aaron was nine or ten years old when I told him about my fear to get back on our school bus because two White boys wanted to make some type of play-ground slide out of Reggie and me. Aaron told his older sister Andrea, and one of his older brothers Johnny Junior our problem. The next day, the three of them walked to our house and rode the bus to school with us. Strangely, that day there was no name-calling. In fact, no more name-calling occurred thereafter. I assume greasin’ us up would have been harder to do with my three relatives strongly protesting it!